AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Some progress has been made toward getting Texas’ emergency operations switched over to an updated 911 system. The system will help first responders across the 28 regional districts better communicate.

$150 million was set aside for the Next Generation 911 program, according to Texas 911 Alliance President Chip Vansteenberg.

He said some larger districts like Houston are already using this new system. However, smaller districts are still in the early planning phase.

Lawmakers approved funding to help districts get the new systems in place, but the funds must be used by the end of December 2024. That means districts need to act soon.

“These projects have a long pipeline,” Vansteenburg said. “If a district did not start in 2021 — putting a project in place — they’re going to have a hard time spending that money by that timeline.” 

Vansteenburg asked lawmakers to consider extending the deadline in a Senate hearing Wednesday.

He also testified every 911 call center will need broadband and other redundant sources, which will be key for reliability. Vansteenburg said this is a key factor, because the new system will have additional services added to the IP network.